I am an avid note taker. Being very proactive, I like to collect information I may need for the future and hold it in my pocket for a future date. Below is a compilation of notes and ideas from a class on dating from a grief conference I attended. I quickly learned that this is a totally different senerio than dating my husband the first time. The class was taught by an amazing grief counselor, Kent Allen, who has worked with widows and widowers throughout his career. He had some great ideas to consider concerning dating. I quickly learned that this is a totally different senerio than dating my husband the first time. Children and extended family greatly complicate this process. Patience, preparation and understand the issues involve is necessary to help a second marriage be successful. Here are my notes on some of his advice.
1.Don’t let your children run your life.
You need to decide when and if you are ready to date, but there are some things you can do to make the transition easier on everyone involved. Remember that everyone has suffered a loss, and a lot of complex emotions are involved. The more sensitive and considerate we are towards everyone’s feeling, the less friction and the more smoothly the process of moving forward will be. The adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is well applied to this situation. Communication is key.
2. Prepare your children ahead of time.
Tell them at least a month in advance that you are thinking about dating. Talk about their concerns calmly and validate their feelings. Reassure them that no one will ever replace their lost parent. When parents begin to date, teens feel that their lost parent is being forgotten. They feel a sense of betrayal and some are very protective of the parent they still have. Understanding these feeling can help you better deal with them.
3. When you start to date, do not hide it from them.
Lying to them always will backfire. Not only will you loose trust with them, but you will set an example of deceit that will surely come back to bite you in the backside.
4. Wait to introduce your dates to your children.
Date for a long time. When you find someone who is significant that you are considering marrying, then it is time to introduce them to your children. Earlier introductions cause a lot of additional stress that is unnecessary if the relationship does not work out. They will either get very angry with you or they will get attached to the person and experience additional loss. Avoid the stress by holding off on the introductions.
5. Have an engagement that is at least 3 months.
This will give the children time to get used to the idea of getting married. Don’t elope and surprise them or you will likely spend years in therapy correcting the fallout.